Six degrees of contagion

Today was the day, a near neighbor was admitted to hospital with the Corona virus.

He wondered wether Milgram’s “six degrees of separation” could help to understand the COVID-19 story. Just try. Make some kind of translation? He started with the functions of the actors in the experiment. In addition, who/what could play these roles in the pandemic? Here is an attempt:

actor/agentsmall world experimentCOVID-19 pandemic
Target(s)Student’s wife in Cambridge (Mass.)everyone (including him)
Initiator(s)Random selected persons in Kansasprimeval virus on Wuhan market
Infrastructure (1)logistic networksmobility networks
Infrastructure (2)first-name based acquaintencesfamily-, acquaintence-, business networks
IntermediatesMail servicesphysical contact, sneezing droplets
MediaLetters (paper)virus RNA, alveoli
Side-effector(s)Network scienceHealth care institutions

It is not at all obvious that Milgram’s experiment (which results in the estimation that any person in this world can reach any other person along lines of first-name acquaintances in six steps) is significant in Corona pandemic times, he thought. But maybe there is something in it.

For example, would it be an idea to imagine in your mind a picture of how the primal virus of December 29, 2019 could have ended up, in six steps, from Wuhan to his near neighbor in the Netherlands on April 1, 2020?

… to be continued